Books

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Publisher: Hyperion
Length: 352 pages
Author: E. Lockhart
Price: $8.99
Format: paperback
US Publication Date: 2009-08
Amazon

Here's your dose of young adult fiction for the day. Frankie Landau-Banks is a sophomore at an elite American boarding school where a mystery lurks, and it's one that only boys are supposed to be involved in. Enter intrigue!

So of course Frankie needs to investigate. Puzzling out the pieces of a semi-secret old boys society, the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, Frankie is determined to find out all she can about the group that forms the roots of future business deals as the boys graduate and attend top-tier universities, then go on to lucrative careers. Why should only boys get to do the social networking and bonding that mean their children too will be born with silver spoons in their mouths?

Cleverly written and light-hearted, E. Lockhart's story was a runner up for the American Library Association's Printz award in 2009, and was also a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award in the young people's literature category.

More strangely, Frankie's diary-style story made it into round one of The Morning News' 2009 Tournament of Books, competing with the totally mismatched Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen. Judge Anthony Doerr writes, "Comparing these two novels is akin to comparing a 777 with a tangerine." Despite Frankie's fall to the thousand page behemoth by Matthiessen, I'd recommend Lockhart's novel to anyone with a sense of humor and the desire to read about a bright girl who's not afraid to get her hands dirty playing with the boys.

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Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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